A detour for this instalment as we venture partially away from whisky and into the wild, unfamiliar, lands of beer. There is a connection of course which will become apparent shortly – so hold on! Micro-breweries are growing in popularity across the UK currently, and we’re seeing this trend in whisky elsewhere in Europe, America and beyond. While I can only hope it this trend reaches the UK, for now we’ll have to content ourselves with the example of these breweries.
Eden Breweries is based in St Andrews, Fife, which is just a short drive from where I live. St Andrews is mainly known for it’s university and that golf course. In terms of whisky and alcohol it has never registered on my roaming map, although that’ll change soon enough when Daftmill releases it’s first dram – being just down the road from the town itself. And so that alcohol-free vision remained intact until I was at the Stockbridge Market in Edinburgh recently and was confronted by the Eden Brewery stall.
Normally I walk past most things to do with beer nowadays. Perhaps it is the mass produced fizzy nature of the beers I remember from my youth. However like distilleries, breweries are experimenting with different finishes with interesting results. The stall was doing a good trade, sparking interest and a brief chat proved as refreshing as the beer itself. Of most interest are the bottles that make up the Oak Wood Series. These cask finishes range from a Jack Daniels for bourbon, a rum cask and a whisky barrel. The bottles are limited to whatever number is produced from the cask, so in the case of the whisky release we’re talking 1987.B
The brewery itself has only been going less than a year, so I suppose I can forgive myself for not having stumbled across it earlier. I left the market with 4 bottles to sample most of the available range. So here the whisky barrel comes in a robust 7.2%. So which distillery? The source is Edradour and it’s own oak cask, complete with a history that you can read about here. This release has since sold out, which is great to see (as it was only bottled I believe this month) and as we’re starting to see some sunshine in Scotland, a most welcome companion to those warm afternoons where I fancy something other than whisky. It is a strong beer, rich in colour, complexity and vibrancy. It has character and a punch that demands respect and the whisky influence is there, having been aged for 90 days. I’m already looking forward to sampling the remainder of my purchases and tasting the influence of various casks.